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(NY Times) Foes of Russia Say Child Pornography Is Planted to Ruin Them

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QuantumBro

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Mar 15, 2011
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So this was a fun read

CAMBRIDGE, England — His indomitable will steeled by a dozen years in the Soviet gulag, decades of sparring with the K.G.B. and a bout of near fatal heart disease, Vladimir K. Bukovsky, a tireless opponent of Soviet leaders and President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, is not a man easily put off his stride.

But he got knocked sideways when British police officers banged on the front door of his home on a sedate suburban street here early one morning while he lay sick in bed and informed him that they had “received information about forbidden images” in his possession.

“It was all very bizarre and disturbing,” Mr. Bukovsky said. “This is not normally the language of a free society,” he added, recalling how his old K.G.B. tormentors used to hound him and his friends over texts and photographs declared forbidden by the Soviet authorities.

The images sought by the British police, however, had nothing to do with politics but involved child pornography, a shocking offense in any jurisdiction. The officers hauled away a clunky desktop computer from Mr. Bukovsky’s study — a chaos of books and papers dusted with cigarette ash — and a broken computer from his garage.

Continue reading the main story
In April last year, the veteran Soviet dissident, a onetime confidant of Margaret Thatcher, finally found out what was going on: The Crown Prosecution Service announced that he faced five charges of making indecent images of children, five charges of possession of indecent images of children and one charge of possession of a prohibited image.

The case was supposed to go to court in May in Cambridge but, after Mr. Bukovsky, 73, entered a not-guilty plea it was delayed until Dec. 12. This followed a prosecution request for more time to review an independent forensic report on what had been found on Mr. Bukovsky’s computers and how an unidentified third party had probably put it there.

“The whole affair is Kafkaesque,” Mr. Bukovsky said in an interview. “You not only have to prove you are not guilty but that you are innocent.” He insisted that he was the victim of a new and particularly noxious form of an old K.G.B. dirty trick known as kompromat, the fabrication and planting of compromising or illegal material.

Yoann Barbereau, the French director of the Alliance Française in the Siberian city of Irkutsk, has been struggling since early last year to defend himself against charges that he posted child pornography on a website for Russian mothers. His lawyers, pointing to evidence that his computer was tampered with after his arrest, believe that the material was planted by local security service officers to punish Mr. Barbereau for an extramarital romance with a woman connected to a powerful local official. In September, after months under house arrest, Mr. Barbereau fled.

Konstantin Rubakhin, an environmental activist who lives in exile in Lithuania, also got a visit from police officers looking for child pornography. Mr. Rubakhin speculated that that raid, in June last year, may have been part of an effort to derail his application for political asylum or his work for the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum, a research group that investigates corruption. In the end, the Lithuanian police dropped the case.

On the “dark web,” an area of the internet that requires special software and authorization codes to enter, suspected Russian hackers openly offer to plant evidence of pedophilia as a way to destroy an enemy.

“I’ll do anything for money,” promised an advertisement placed by a hacker who offered to ruin “your opponents, business or private persons you don’t like. I can ruin them financially and or get them arrested, whatever you like.” Boasting that it was possible to destroy both individuals and businesses, the hacker added, “If you want someone to get known as a child porn user, no problem.” He gave a price, denominated in Bitcoins, of around $600 per job.

Paulo Shakarian, the chief executive officer of IntelliSpyre and the director of the Cyber-Socio Intelligent Systems Laboratory at Arizona State University, said his team had analyzed the advertisement and concluded that it was probably posted by a Russian (or at least a Russian-speaking) hacker. He said the price was in the normal range of what hackers demand for character assassination.

It's crazy that for only $600 you can ruin someone's life and they have no way of knowing what's going on until it's too late.
 
I'd certainly hope that in countries with relatively established judicial systems it would be tough to make something like that stick. At least in the U.S., the idea of a critic of Russia suddenly having a treasure trove of illicit materials found in their home reeks of reasonable doubt.

It obviously puts the targets through hell, much as other psychological warfare operations are intended to terrorize.
 

RinsFury

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Jun 2, 2016
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A person I know was once accused of having child porn by his ex-girlfriend. The police came and took away his computer, and he was presumed guilty throughout the entire investigation by those around him. Even after being found innocent, he will always have the stain of having been investigated on those charges. It's a frighteningly easy way to ruin someones life.
 
Jul 18, 2008
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I'd certainly hope that in countries with relatively established judicial systems it would be tough to make something like that stick. At least in the U.S., the idea of a critic of Russia suddenly having a treasure trove of illicit materials found in their home reeks of reasonable doubt.

It obviously puts the targets through hell, much as other psychological warfare operations are intended to terrorize.

In the US there's no protection from disclosure of suspects in cases of sex crimes like these, so even if you're ultimately found innocent your life is ruined anyway. Sex crimes are so demonized by the public that even the innocent can't stand up to the assault.
 

norm9

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Nov 21, 2014
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$600 is pretty cheap. A couple people could combine their cash and ruin someone they don't like.
 

Shredderi

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Feb 24, 2013
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A person I know was once accused of having child porn by his ex-girlfriend. The police came and took away his computer, and he was presumed guilty throughout the entire investigation by those around him. Even after being found innocent, he will always have the stain of having been investigated on those charges. It's a frighteningly easy way to ruin someones life.

Yep. Someone just has to decide that they want to hurt you indefinitely and they can absolutely achieve that by doing this. Like you said, the stigma never fully goes away. Even if people are able to think logically, they just have that leftover "feeling" that they can't shake off.
 

Mr.Mike

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Jul 4, 2013
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I'd certainly hope that in countries with relatively established judicial systems it would be tough to make something like that stick. At least in the U.S., the idea of a critic of Russia suddenly having a treasure trove of illicit materials found in their home reeks of reasonable doubt.

It obviously puts the targets through hell, much as other psychological warfare operations are intended to terrorize.

I can't find my source, but I remember reading a comment about how refusing to provide in court keys to decrypt computer files could lead to a person being charged with contempt of court. The comment went on the suggest a method of attack where a hacker would plant some files on your computer, encrypt them, and destroy the key before reporting you to the police. Now you couldn't possibly provide the keys. The files wouldn't even have to be illicit.

Anyway, people should take computer security much more seriously. Go make sure your Windows is updated to the newest version at least. And use better passwords, maybe even a password manager.
 

Slackbladder

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Mar 13, 2007
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A person I know was once accused of having child porn by his ex-girlfriend. The police came and took away his computer, and he was presumed guilty throughout the entire investigation by those around him. Even after being found innocent, he will always have the stain of having been investigated on those charges. It's a frighteningly easy way to ruin someones life.
Yep, the public hysteria in the UK was so ridiculous that the law became an ass and causes far too much harm to completely innocent people.
 

TheCochese

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May 28, 2014
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This will happen here under this administration, I guarantee it. Perhaps not child porn, but vocal critics will be compromised if they represent a clear and present danger to the policies going forward.

It sounds very conspiratorial, but is it? After the past few years?
 
May 14, 2008
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This will happen here under this administration, I guarantee it. Perhaps not child porn, but vocal critics will be compromised if they represent a clear and present danger to the policies going forward.

It sounds very conspiratorial, but is it? After the past few years?
This is straight up tinfoil hat territory, forget about sounding like a crazy person.
 
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